Although most people are familiar with eye conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and astigmatism, most people are unfamiliar with pterygia.
A pterygium is an abnormal non-cancerous growth of the sclera (the white part of the eye) towards the cornea. It usually begins on the nasal (or inner) side of the eye and slowly creeps outward. The cause of pterygia is believed to be prolonged exposure to light, dust, and dryness, and it is sometimes called surfer’s eye. Pterygia may cause chronic eye dryness, redness, or even affect one’s vision if it extends far over the cornea.
Up until fairly recently, the ophthalmic community believed the condition to be untreatable. Recurrence rate after pterygium removal was very high, about 50%. Now, eye surgeons are able to use fibrin tissue adhesive, amniotic membrane transplantation, conjunctival autografts, and certain antibiotics to lower the recurrence rate to about 1%.
Wearing sunglasses and keeping your eyes moisturized can help protect you from pterygia, but if you do get one, pterygium removal is a fairly low-risk procedure in skilled hands.